A professor at California State University, Northridge is appealing a finding by school officials that he retaliated against students who complained of anti-gay and anti-women discrimination after they voluntarily attended an event concerning family issues at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for class credit.
The Cal State Northridge professor is Robert O. Lopez.
The taxpayer-funded university’s office of equity and diversity conducted a secret, 245-day investigation against Lopez, a tenured associate professor of English and classics.
When Lopez was finally presented with the secret charges against him, school officials permitted him to defend himself in an interview with Susan Hua, Cal State Northridge’s Title IX Coordinator.
On three occasions during the two-and-a-half hour interview, Hua compared voluntary attendance at a conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to appearing at a Ku Klux Klan camp, Lopez told The Daily Caller.
Throughout the duration of the interview, Lopez also said, Hua did not permit him to see the actual complaint lodged against him or an official list of the charges he faced.
The Reagan Library conference occurred on Oct. 3, 2014. It was entitled “Bonds that Matter” and featured speakers discussing family issues and the rights of children.
Lopez gave an assignment to the students who opted to attend the six-hour conference. The assignment involved creating family-related exhibits drawing on in-class readings about family obligations.
“You should not be commenting on present-day debates about children’s rights, rather giving an objective view of children and family,” Lopez explained in his syllabi.
About 75 percent of Lopez’s approximately 160 students for the fall semester (across four different 300- and 400-level courses) chose to create exhibits and to attend the conference at the Reagan Library, about 40 minutes by car from the Cal State Northridge campus.
Lopez also attended the conference but was not among the five speakers. Students who chose to complete an optional writing assignment instead did not attend.
According to complaining students, conference speakers – all women – made anti-gay and anti-female statements during a question-and-answer session. These alleged statements include “women who use sperm banks are evil” and “gay people cannot be parents.”
Lopez categorically says the students are lying. He has presented a transcript of the Q & A session to prove his claim.
“Gay adoption came up a few times because students prodded the presenters on the topic, straying from the focus of the talks,” the professor has explained.
The students who prodded conference presenters about gay adoption are among the students who then complained about the issue of gay adoption being raised at the conference.
One of the complaining students, a gay English major, claimed to be so distraught after attending the conference on family issues at the conference that he could no longer continue attending Lopez’s class on Greek and Roman mythology and thus failed it.
Lopez disputes this student’s claim, primarily because the student had never enrolled in the mythology course but was instead enrolled in a course concerning American novels. Prior to the conference, the gay student missed 50 percent of the scheduled class sessions for the course in which he was enrolled, Lopez explains, and ultimately missed 85 percent of the classes. The student also turned in no assignments, Lopez says.
“It appears that the allegations against me can be summarized thus: Because I did not warn women and gays not to attend the conference I organized, I caused them to come unprepared for dangerous ideas,” Lopez wrote in his defense this summer. “In other words, the students allege the conference was sufficiently discriminatory against gays that they would have needed trigger warnings before going.”
Cal State Northridge officials cleared Lopez on all the original charges in October. They admitted that an offer of credit for optional attendance at a Reagan Library conference is not intrinsically discriminatory.
However, school officials then found the professor guilty of charges of retaliation – charges which Lopez says school officials only brought later.
In an October 2015 letter, Cal State Northridge provost Yi Li informed Lopez that he had found him guilty of a charge of retaliation by attempting “to intimidate and prevent” complaining students “from exercising their rights” to “report what they perceive to be a hostile learning environment.”
According to Li, one student now remembers that Lopez suggested there was “bad blood” between Lopez and the student. The student also claimed that Lopez threatened her by threatening to withhold an award nomination.
Lopez told TheDC that student was never eligible for any awards. He gave the student an A grade in the course, he added.
“The only thing I can think of is that she may have wanted me to write a letter of recommendation, in which case I might have told her I’m not the right person,” the professor told Campus Reform.
A charge of retaliation against students is a serious one in academia. Lopez faces the possibility of suspension without pay or outright dismissal.
Lopez describes the investigation against him – which has now persisted for nearly 400 days – as a politically-motivated witch hunt by students who oppose him because of his views concerning gay marriage and the fate of the children of gay couples.
“The case of the Reagan Library ‘affair’ is most chilling to me because it shows that universities have created a shadow legal system, in which a scholar can be labeled a ‘non-person’ for a belief he or she holds, and then everything that scholar does is tainted and open to excessive surveillance and investigation,” the professor told TheDC. “The Reagan Library event was not on campus, not mandatory for students, not funded with university funds, and not about gay issues, yet somehow the complainants created an anti-gay charge out of thin air because I organized it and I have been labeled – unfairly – anti-gay.”
The Cal State Northridge equity and diversity staff conducted a clandestine investigation against him and trained students to spy on him, Lopez said.
Lopez is an interesting case. He was raised by a lesbian couple. He is – or was – bisexual. He is now married to a woman. His critics, including the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates heavily for gay and transgender causes, have branded him as a conservative “exporter of hate.”
In 2012, Lopez wrote a piece in Public Discourse reflecting on his experiences as the child of two lesbian parents. The piece caused outrage and alarm among gay marriage advocates.
He “was emotionally very close to my mother’s lesbian partner,” Lopez told LifeSiteNews.com last month, but he was also “was alienated from my father and therefore from half of myself.”
“I oppose any agenda that compromises the sacred rights of children to their maternal and paternal lineages,” Lopez told LifeSiteNews, an anti-abortion website. “Whether it is straight or gay people doing this, I oppose it.”
Lopez has also argued in the cyberpages of American Thinker, a conservative website, that “children have an inalienable right to a mother and father, cannot be bought or sold, and are entitled to know their origins. Whether it is straight people or gay people using divorce, surrogacy, trafficking, or any other means to deny people these rights, I oppose it.”
As a consequence of his position that children deserve a mother and a father, he has been the target of harassment campaigns by gay and lesbian political pressure groups.
A faction of students at Cal State Northridge sees Lopez as a hateful bigot and wants him removed from the faculty, he told TheDC. “They feel it’s a great cause,” he said.
A Change.org petition seeking the dismissal of the charges against Lopez currently has 740 signatures.
The documents which indict Lopez have the names of the students redacted.